New Study: Adverse Family Experiences Among Children in Nonparental Care

On May 7, 2014, the results of a new study were relased by The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. The report explains that children who are raised by both biological Mom and Dad are more likely to have a safe, happy childhood.

According to the study, the worst outcomes for experiencing traumatic events comes from children in foster care, with no biological parental involvement. Following that category, those raised by one biological parent, and those raised by relatives other than parents come in ranking only behind children who are raised by both parents.

Seventy percent of children raised by their biological parents had no adverse family experiences, compared to only 21.7 percent of those raised by one biological parent, and 18.7 percent of those raised by neither of their biological parents. The study found that as the involvement of biological parents decreased, the likelihood of a child experiencing multiple traumatic events increased.

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While it is easy to become mired in the numbers when reviewing such reports, some crystal clear trends emerge from this one:

When examining the prevalence of children with no adverse experiences versus any adverse experiences, the difference between children in nonparental care and children living with one biological parent was quite small. However, as the number of cumulative experiences compared increased, the differences between children in nonparental care and children living with one biological parent grew. Children in nonparental care were about twice as likely as children living with one biological parent to have experienced four or more adverse events.

FOSTER CHILDREN

The study’s results are of particular concern given the high emphasis placed on child removal and foster care placement as the intervention of choice for many families. The report explains:

Children in foster care were particularly likely to have had multiple types of adverse experiences; almost one-half of them had had four or more. More than one-half of children in foster care had ever experienced caregiver violence or caregiver incarceration and almost two-thirds had lived with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem.

A few words of caution are in order. The study explains: “It is likely that some children in nonparental care find themselves in that situation because they had experienced certain adverse family circumstances that necessitated the removal of the child from the birth family – that is, the adverse experience preceded and perhaps even contributed to the nonparental care status rather than being merely associated with it. For example, more than one-half of children entering foster care in 2007 had experienced severe parental neglect and nearly 30% had experienced parental alcohol or drug abuse as contributing reasons for entering foster care.”

CHILD ‘NEGLECT’

A few words about “parental neglect” are in order before proceeding. Neglect is a broad-sweeping accusation that may encompass anything from taking your eyes off of a child for a few moments, to accumulating excessive absences from school, to shouting at your child from your driveway, to providing an insufficient home environment.

Douglas J. Besharov and Jacob W. Dembosky describe “definitional creep,” the phenomenon of ever-expanding definitions of abuse, neglect, and children “in danger of being harmed according to the views of community professionals or child-protective service agencies.”

The Florida Supreme Court grappled with this issue as long ago as 1977. When the state’s neglect statute was challenged, the Court ruled that “without some statutory standards or guidelines, the Legislature has effectively set a net large enough to catch all possible offenders and has left to the courts the power to say who should be detained and who should be set at large. Such a statute is dangerous and does not provide due process of law.” As the ruling in State v. Winters, 346 So.2d 991 (Fla.1977) explained:

A palacial mansion that is clean and spacious could fail to qualify as “necessary shelter,” if it had no heat. A small, overcrowded log cabin may, on the other hand, meet the test. Depending upon the standard adopted, any given shelter, whether in the suburbs or the ghetto, could be found to fall short of “necessary shelter.” Similarly, each person must ask just how much and what quality of food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment he must provide to avoid jeopardy. Nothing in the statute gives us the answer. There are no guidelines.

The state’s legislators rewrote the offending statute, in an effort to effect a constitutional cure. However, in State v. Ayers, 665 So.2d 296 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995) the statutes were still found wanting for lack of clarity. Florida’s child savers went back to work, this time adding “willfully or by culpable negligence” language to the child neglect statute. Hovever, Arnold v. State, 755 So.2d 796 (2000) still found it hard to digest the broad, sweeping mandates that constituted the legislative definition of “child neglect.”

The terms “alcohol or drug abuse” are almost-always added to the mix to justify child removals. The reality is that we are not finding junkies having babies in back alleys while shooting up with dirty needles – but that is precisely the impression that the child protection industry wants to convey.

iAlexandria Hill was rescued from parents who smoked marijuana as she slept.

Far more typical is the tragic story of Alexandra Hill, who was removed from her home by the Texas Department of Family Protective Services in November 2012 on a claim of “neglectful supervision.”

Alexandria’s dad, Joshua, readily admits they were smoking pot when their daughter was asleep.

“We never hurt our daughter. She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care,” he said to reporters at KVUE TV.

Nevertheless, that was apparently neglectful enough of a situation for Alexandria to wind up in foster care. Presumably her removal and subsequent placement were sanctified by a judge, at some point in time.

Her outcome was the worst imaginable. Two-year-old Alexandria was rushed to Scott and White Children’s Emergency Hospital and immediately placed on life support. After an investigation, the foster mother’s charges were upgraded to capital murder. Texas MENTOR, the private agency that oversaw the foster home in which she was placed, had a long history of violations.

Bearing in mind that the majority of child removals involve neglect – and certainly do not involve anything resembling what most people would consider as “abuse” – we return once again to the study on hand. The research found that:

Nearly one-half of children in foster care (48.3%) had had four or more adverse experiences, compared with 25%–30% of children in each of the other three caregiver subgroups. Among those other nonparental care subgroups, differences were smaller and mostly nonsignificant.

This is consistent with some other studies of recent vintage regarding outcomes.

According to a California Senate Office of Research study reported on in December 2011, a state survey found that of 2,564 adult prisoners in the state, 14 percent said that they had been in foster care at some point in their lives. The study also found that: “Of the surveyed inmates who had been in foster care, 52 percent of the males and 45 percent of the females said they had resided in group homes. Thirty-one percent of the male inmates and 35 percent of the females lived with a foster family.”

Over one half of the males and nearly half of the females in this population graduated from group home settings.

A British study of children in care or custody released in December 2012 by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate explains: “the overall outcomes and future life chances for these children and young people are extremely poor. The fact that they were away from their home areas and were moved frequently militated against their chances of rehabilitation. The fact of being looked after could escalate a child into the criminal justice system.”

The British study continues on to explain: “In the overwhelming majority of the cases that we inspected, the outcomes for the children and young people were poor. Children and young people were not always protected. Some had been assaulted or sexually exploited; some had themselves assaulted or exploited other children and young people. They had often been criminalised while in care for offences that would probably not have gone to court if they had been living at home. A significant number had gone missing at some point, some a substantial number of times. Their education had suffered and few were well prepared or supported for transition to adulthood.”

The most recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics mentions parental incarceration as among the difficulties faced by foster children. But this raises the question of which is the proverbial chicken, and which is the proverbial egg? There are many disturbing outcomes resulting from child removal and foster care placement that are as yet incompletely understood.

A 2004 study published by the Vera Institute for Justice examined the chronology of arrest, incarceration, and child placement. Researchers noted that: “Many observers worry that the war on drugs and harsher punishments for minor crimes has resulted in more children entering foster care. The data suggest that the opposite is true.”

Contrary to their expectations, the researchers found that: “The vast majority (90 percent) of maternal incarcerations that overlapped child placement started after child placement, as did 85 percent of the arrests that led to those incarcerations. Child removal appears to accelerate criminal activity among the study group’s mothers.”

From Fiscal Year 1997 (the year of removal) to FY 1999, the study group mothers averaged 2.6 convictions each, “a rate far higher than in the pre-removal years.” The researchers came to a startling conclusion — one that is certainly not mentioned with favor among those in the child protection industry. That is that: “family preservation efforts may function as a crime reduction tool. Successful efforts to avert placement not only keep families together and children out of foster care, but can also prevent the increase in maternal criminal activity that can take place following a child’s removal.”

Marilyn C. Moses, a Social Science Analyst at the National Institute of Justice, reported the results of a follow-up study that arrived at much the same conclusion. Researchers from the University of California and the University of Chicago focused on mothers who were incarcerated in Illinois State prisons and the Cook County area, finding that more than one-fourth (27 percent) of the mothers who had been incarcerated also had a child who had been placed in foster care at some point during the child’s life.

“But surprisingly, researchers found, the mother’s incarceration was not the reason the child was placed in foster care,” Moses explained. While the results appeared to be counter-intuitive, they were nevertheless consistent with those of the earlier Vera Institute study:

In fact, in almost three-quarters of the cases, children were placed in foster care prior to the mother’s first period of incarceration. And in more than 40 percent of those cases, the children entered foster care as many as 3 years before their mothers went to jail.

This finding contradicts a widely held assumption that children are placed in foster care as a direct result of their parents’ incarceration. The early findings indicate that a child’s foster care status is rarely a direct result of a mother’s arrest and imprisonment.

Researchers often appear to be perplexed by such results, perhaps in part because they cling to the perspective that state “intervention” into family life is ipso facto beneficial. Indeed, identifying the “risks” associated with foster care, incarceration, probation, and other interventions frequently becomes an end in and of itself, with researchers paving the way for further inquiry into the devising of appropriate additional interventions to undo the damage done by the original ones.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Nearly 24 Area Foster Homes Inspected After Toddler’s Death

Child-Abuse-270[1]AUSTIN —Texas Child Protective Services caseworkers have randomly inspected 23 area foster homes in the wake of the arrest a foster mother in Rockdale, who is charged with capital murder in the death of a 2-year-old who was in her care.

Julie Moody of the Department of Family and Protective Services said Thursday caseworkers interviewed a total of 59 children in the 23 homes and removed two children from one of the homes because of the use of inappropriate discipline.

In another case, caseworkers barred a frequent visitor from a foster home until a criminal background check was performed, Moody said.

Sherill Small, 54, of Rockdale was arrested earlier this month on a warrant charging murder and remains in the Milam County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond.

The child, Alexandria Hill, 2, died at Scott & White's McLane Children's Hospital after she was taken off life support.

Smalls’ arrest affidavit says, “She became frustrated with Alexandria, picked her up, and in a downward motion with a lot of force came down toward the ground with her.”

Read More at : kwtx.com.

Lawsuit Accusing Texas of “Poorly Supervising Foster Children” Moves Forward

A class-action lawsuit filed in 2011 on behalf of nine Texas children has been given the go ahead by a federal judge on Thursday. The lawsuit accuses Texas of “poorly supervising foster children,” reported AP.

Photo: epSos .de via Flickr

Photo: epSos .de via Flickr

The New York-based Children’s Rights group is behind the push for justice for more than 12,000 abused and neglected Texas children that were permanently removed from their natural homes. Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry said the child rights group has sued more than 15 states for “mistreatment of foster children” and lost just two of those cases.

“Children are being harmed. And the state knows it and is basically disregarding the harm to children,” she said.

Last month Infowars reported on two-year old Alexandria Hill who was killed while under the care of Texas Child Protective Services (CPS). Alexandria was taken from her home because her parents allegedly smoked pot after their daughter went to sleep. Foster mom Sherri Small is facing capital murder charges for brutally slamming Alexandria’s head, causing her to die from blunt force trauma.

Texas mentor, the agency responsible for placing Alexandria with foster mom Small, is the third largest foster care contractor in the state.

State records show that Texas Mentor’s Arlington office was placed on a six-month evaluation after they were cited for 114 violations in 56 foster homes over a two year span, reported the Dallas News.

State funding for CPS has been increased twice over the past eight years, but the agency continues to fail majorly, endangering thousands of children.

 

Read More at : infowars.com.

California Lawsuit: Children Were Taken By State, Detained For A Year Over Medical Marijuana Prescription

MJ_0[1]Last week, the story of Alexandria Hill made headlines around the country. Hill was murdered by her foster mom, whose custody she was only placed in because her parents smoked marijuana. The foster mother, Sherill Small, has been charged with murder.

Today, RT reported on a similar story involving marijuana and child custody in California.

Michael Lewis and wife Lauren Taylor have two children, ages four and two. Lewis is a medical marijuana patient in the state. His physician prescribes him cannabis to deal with the debilitating headaches he has suffered since being exposed to toxic chemicals in the gulf War.

In 2011 San Diego police received a bizarre report. Someone called the department and told them that the Lewis house was running a daycare. At their daycare, the report said, children were being exposed to marijuana. In August of 2011, police visited the Lewis home. They found no evidence of a daycare center at the house, but they did find Lewis’ prescribed marijuana.

Two days later, agents from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed up at the Lewis’ door. The agents took their children. It took the family an entire year to regain custody of their children, and now they’re suing the San Diego County police department. The children were taken under the reasoning of “general neglect” but the Lewis’ lawsuit claims there were no grounds for such a claim.

Here is an excerpt from the lawsuit:

"Nonetheless, even though they knew Michael Lewis' use of medical marijuana was completely legal in that he had obtained a medical marijuana recommendation after an evaluation from a licensed medical doctor, and that Lewis only used the marijuana outside the presence of the children and only for amelioration of pain, these defendants seized and detained the children. They failed to conduct any independent investigation prior to seizing the children. Michael and Lauren were shocked, stunned, amazed and terrified.”

Throughout the legal battle, agents from the HHS repeatedly testified against the Lewis family. One of the agents, Ian Baxter, “misled the court by stating that he did not need to conduct any pre-placement preventive services because of the 'emergent nature' of the situation and asserted that Michael and Lauren left their children 'inadequately attended and inadequately supervised' around the marijuana. This statement was totally false, and Baxter knew it, or - even worse - simply didn't care,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit goes on to say that neither Lewis or Taylor could be reasonably suspected of any level of neglect towards their children.

“Throughout the ordeal, Taylor and the children never tested positive for any drug,” the lawsuit says. “Although Michael Lewis ingested marijuana for medicinal purposes pursuant to a physician's recommendation, he never tested positive for any other drugs. Further, there was (1) no evidence of abuse or neglect by either parent, (2) no evidence that Michael's marijuana use impaired his parenting skills or judgment and (3) no evidence that Michael Lewis acted inappropriately toward his children at any time - ever.”

Finally, on August 2, 2012, the children were returned to their parents. A judge ruled that the HHS had no grounds on which to continue holding the children. The Lewis’ family is now suing for abduction of a child, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

Sources: RT, Courthouse News

 

A version of this column originally appeared in opposingviews.com.

Foster Mother Charged In Death Of 2-Year-Old

Sherill-Small-Foster-Child-Murder[1]ROCKDALE (August 1, 2013)--A Rockdale woman was arrested Thursday on a warrant charging murder in connection with the death of a 2-year-old foster child who was placed in her home in January.

Sherill Small, 54, was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bond on the murder charge, Milam County Jail records showed Thursday.

Bell County Justice of the Peace David Barfield pronounced Alexandria Hill, 2, dead at Scott & White's McLane Children's Hospital on Wednesday after she was taken off life support.

A version of this column originally appeared in kwtx.com.